Image: Rockstar North
I’ve been seeing these videos for at least a year, what I would call the “real life NPC” trend on TikTok, videos that harass, embarrass or scare people in public. Harassment is a staple of life online, something I placidly accept YouTube “prank” channelsniche celebrity drama, and my Twitter response guys. But these videos stung me in a unique way, as if watching them plunge my hand into a bowl of sweet gum seedsbecause their creators had a unique rationale – it’s okay to bother others, they said, because others are nothing more than non-playable characters.
More than anything else, thinking this way seems embarrassing. When I see these videos, which try to extract entertainment from boredom older peoplemaybe homeless people, and service workers, I feel like our cultural myopia is getting worse. Being the ancestor of your own personal social media content doesn’t make you god, but seeing everyone around you as a thoughtless NPC, an easy target, helps you let go of your empathy and believe otherwise.
Everything that defines a non-playable character is in its name. In a video game, NPCs are characters that you can’t play, even if you would really like to kill a man with an NPC Princess GwynevereDark Souls bountiful chest, like I know I would. Anyone who isn’t an NPC is a hero, the protagonist.
This type of character arrangement may be inherently individualistic, but it’s not distinct – it mimics those found in mythology story arc known as the hero’s journey, in many movies, and in the ubiquitous first-person “I” of many songs. Nothing makes video game characters particularly more prone to selfish metaphors than characters in these other art forms, except, perhaps, the fact that “NPC” is a more specific term than “background character”. ” or “extra”, and more neutral than “antagonist”. or “the best friend”.
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Video games protagonists, too, are charged with a kind of positive action you can’t find elsewhere, by virtue of their actions being linked, barring cutscenes, to the player’s. If viewers could fire every gun in John Woo’s plastic surgery thriller Face/Off, too, maybe I’d be writing about the “Nicolas Cage in real life” TikTok trend instead.
So the origin of Urban Dictionary’s snobby 2018 interpretation of an NPC– “apparently a human unable to think objectively” – becomes clearer with this in mind. The other people? Animals, puppies in need of a leader, half-formed humans whose joy and aspirations lie in helping you find the right train, get to class on time. And you? You are the irreproachable main characterunhappy that all these foreign personalities are interfering with your quest.
Although the definition of the urban dictionary was born of lazy political dissatisfaction (it lists both “Fuck Trump! Ban Guns!” and “Fuck Hillary! Ban Immigrants!” as NPCs say), the TikTok interpretation of NPCs is more general, like other online interpretations dating back from 2011but just as patronizingly clingy.
When you search for “real life NPCs” on TikTok, you’ll be met with results that have garnered millions upon millions of views, with the highest volume of videos posted between Spring 2022 and present. The type of content varies and the videos are rarely about real video games. One of the most watched NPC videos, with 16.8 million views, features a group of boys pretend to be NPCs from Grand Theft Autobut another with 12.5 million views follows a kid snarling at a passing classmate, supposedly to help himself live among “too many NPCs”.
The most prolific anti-NPC creator might be Bigcthedon British TikTokerwhose entire account and combined 15.3 million likes advertise TELL NPC STRANGE THINGS, TELL NPC STRANGE THINGS, LET’S SING SKEPTA ON THE TUBE TO NPCsand TELL NPC STRANGE THINGS. These types of squealing displays of obnoxiousness are the most popular types of NPC videos, though teens often do “NPC interviews” as well. with children at schooland Dizzy writes that some NPC videos have more to do with increased interest in simulation theorywith the videographer performing robotic movements resembling game characters that, to an unsuspecting viewer, must seem “almost unnerving, like swallowing the red pill”.
But for me, a 23-year-old and an older member of the many–philosophize–on Generation ZI think TikTok’s obnoxious use of “NPC” can be attributed to the fact that my generation lives most of our lives small, alone, and online.
During my most pivotal years, tweens and teens, I formed my identity and understanding of community through chat rooms, blogs, and group texts. I never saw who I was talking to on the other end of the line. I posted selfies on Instagram, stories on An Archive Of Our Own, lunchtime thoughts on Twitter, songs on SoundCloud. I saw other people’s selfies and other people’s stories, but in a physical sense it was all filtered through my isolation – it was only my face that I could stand up and see in the reflection of my computer, it was just my typing telling everyone what I believed. Using a computer is not totally different from previous generations’ hobbies of watching television alone or writing letters, but only a computer allows one to analyze and transmute their self. physical and emotional in neat digital packages. Otherwise known as social media posts.
For some members of Generation Z, the first generation to have access to social media from birth, the way we understood each other was informed more by what we did, alone, illuminated by the light of a screen, than by what we did. ‘other people. The internet, with its endless, Photo Booth filters that could distort self-image even more than the unreasonable expectations of a magazine, made more of an impression on us than sitting in a cafeteria and seeing that people around us were anxious, loving, and alive too.
When I was younger, spending most of my time dealing with my internal, personal digital world, I think I stopped seeing that everyone around me was breathing fully. To me, they looked like empty-headed NPCs, but then I grew.
I learned to listen and take care of others. I’ve learned that selfishness quickly diminishes any self-proclaimed hero status: it hurts you and the people trying to help you on your journey. And are “NPCs” really that stupid? Is it so terrible to be a useful member of a well-meaning collective? NPCs also have stories, families, and feelings. Being like everyone else isn’t bad, so I don’t need to be the hero. Sometimes I’m okay with being someone else’s NPC.
Article source https://kotaku.com/tiktok-npc-in-real-life-trend-twitter-gen-z-video-games-1849575169